One of FISHBIO’s long-term initiatives in the Mekong Basin has been the development of the Mekong Fish Network, an effort to improve collaboration and communication in fisheries research in the region. One of the key steps in this process is to identify and understand the relationships among the many different people and institutions engaged in work in the Mekong region. To help achieve this kind of overview, FISHBIO conducted a survey on behalf of the Mekong Fish Network, with analytical support from the U.S. Geological Survey, to document existing collaborative networks in the Mekong Basin. The results are now available on the Mekong Fish Network website, and were recently distributed in the first issue of the Mekong Fish Network newsletter.
Most of the 69 survey respondents came from universities and research institutions in the United States and Vietnam, followed by Lao PDR and Cambodia. When asked to identify the primary focus of their organization’s work, about half of the respondents (52%) listed research, followed by natural resource management (19%), capacity building (17%), and conservation (12%). The primary thematic work areas that were most frequently listed included fisheries, water management, and ecology. Survey respondents were asked to review a list of 182 organizations and select the ones with whom they had worked in the past year. As evidenced by the spiderweb-like diagram that was created from survey responses, the network of Mekong Basin organizations displays a high level of connectedness (.903), demonstrating great potential for increased collaboration and information exchange. Remarkably, respondents listed more more than 120 additional organizations that were not included in the original survey, highlighting the value of conducting follow-up efforts to this initial pilot.
In addition to summarizing the results of this survey, the first issue of the Mekong Fish Network newsletter included a recap of the Mekong fisheries symposium at the 2015 American Fisheries Society meeting, and a story about recent translations of historical French accounts of fishes in Vietnam and Cambodia. It also included descriptions of some recent fish-related projects in the Basin, including an effort to evaluate ecosystem services of wetlands in Cambodia and Vietnam, and a socio-economic study of fish harvesting at Pak Peung wetland in Laos. We look forward to using this platform in the future to share additional updates about exciting fisheries work throughout the Mekong Basin.